4 Mantras to Improve Body Image
As published on: Psychology Today
Written by: Renee Engeln Ph.D.
With our culture’s toxic focus on physical appearance and the non-stop barrage of beauty-related marketing we’re hit with every day, it can be hard to maintain a healthy body image. Everyone has been there. A quick glance in the mirror can turn into an extended mope-session. In addition to making you feel awful, when you beat yourself up about how you look, you use up valuable time and energy that could be put to much better use. Some carefully tailored self-talk can help to beat back the body image blues and leave you ready to face the world with confidence.
1. My body is for doing things.
It’s easy to get the message from our culture that the most important thing your body should be is sexy. In addition to making us obsessed with the newest beauty product or diet craze, that message distracts us from the fact that our bodies have much more important things to do than look good. Our bodies are for doing things. They move us around in the world. They help us communicate and create. Even if you face significant bodily pain or disability, your body still gives you gifts every day. Your arms might hug a loved one. Your eyes might appreciate the colors in the changing autumn leaves. Instead of worrying about whether you’re beautiful, think about what you can do with your body. Take some time to appreciate what your body does to get you through the day. Thank it for doing so.
2. I will treat my body with kindness and respect.
I wish we could all love our bodies every moment of every day, but that’s not realistic for most. It’s important to remember that you don’t have to love the way you look to treat your body with kindness and compassion. On top of that, while body shame tends to trigger unhealthy choices, thinking of your body with kindness can help you take better care of it. After all, it’s hard to take good care of things we don’t respect. You can’t always guarantee that others will treat your body with respect, but you can commit to respecting your own body, even when others may not.
3. I am more than the mirror.
We’re never going to live in a world where physical attractiveness doesn’t matter. But it truly does not need to matter this much. Take a break from your Instagram feed, step away from the mirror, and remind yourself of all your strengths that have nothing to do with how you look. Your looks are a sideshow. What you do with your life is the main event.
4. I will make the world brighter for someone else today.
Wait! What does that one have to do with your body? More than you might realize. One of the best ways to get out of our heads when we’re feeling down is to turn our focus to others. In addition to breaking the cycle of rumination, acts of kindness for others can improve your mood. What better way to remember that what you do matters more than how you look than by showing kindness to others?